Mexico has long been a popular tourist destination, with something to offer every type of traveler, from idyllic beaches and bustling cities to historic sites and charming colonial towns. The tourism industry is a crucial component of the Mexican economy, contributing more than 8% to the country’s GDP and providing jobs for up to 4.4 million people.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Mexico kept its borders open, as the government prioritized economic growth. This decision helped Mexico’s tourism sector weather the storm better than many other countries, and in 2020, Mexico ranked as the most visited country in Latin America and the third most visited worldwide.
While some destinations suffered due to the decline in tourism, the numbers have bounced back and are now approaching pre-pandemic levels. According to the National Statistical Institute, there was an 18% increase in tourist visits to Mexico in February 2023 compared to the previous year, indicating a potential return to peak levels.
The United States is the largest source of international tourists to Mexico, followed by Canada, Colombia, and Argentina. Cancún is the top destination for air arrivals, followed by Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, and Guadalajara. Mexico’s 132 Pueblos Mágicos, smaller towns and cities in the country’s interior, are also popular with domestic tourists.
Air travel is also experiencing a boom, with a significant increase in the number of passengers transported on international and domestic flights compared to pre-pandemic levels. Tourism continues to be a key economic sector in Mexico, contributing to over 8% of the country’s GDP every year between 2010 and 2019, with predictions that it will contribute 8.6% in 2023. The industry also had a record trade surplus of US $20.9 billion in 2022, outpacing other sectors like manufacturing. Foreign direct investment in the tourism sector also reached a record high in 2022.